It was a memorable trip down the driveway last night. A bodacious half-moon with a full-moon’s light shone on me and my garbage-can escort as we sauntered to the curb. It was a moon with an attitude, making up in self-possession what it lacked in size, proclaiming its majesty of the sky. Which is, after all, its patrimony: “And God fashioned the two great lights, the large one to rule the day and the small one to rule the night.” (Genesis 1:16)
The Torah does not stipulate minimum size requirements, so even a brash half-moon can own the night.
That, in itself, is a worthy object lesson: we can be bigger than we appear, fill a space larger than ourselves, if but dare to launch ourselves outward and let our lights illumine the dark spaces around us.
All the while, the trees serenaded us, squeaking and squealing as they swayed, like the joints of a chair groaning under the weight of its ample burden. Years ago, when we first heard that sound, we wondered if it meant a tree was about to fall. We went out in the wind, in the night, at dusk to see if we could catch the culprit, see why it moaned. We never found it, never could cut it down, and so it continues to moan to this day. Only last night it sounded softer, more content, as if the tree was just settling into its bones, working on making its bark catch up to the growth of the sapwood and the sapwood settle comfortably in with the stable heartwood. It was a sound of earnest living, the pleasures and pains of life.
The leaves over-hanging the driveway were not to be left out, silhouetted as they were upon the ground, my form mingled among them. We looked like the fading shadows on the flash-wall in the dark room of a science museum. Only the flash-wall images faded faster than the night shadows. Or so it seemed.
In life, unlike in physics, time, duration, is measured in relation not to speed but to worth. Our shadows in the science museum are meant to be ephemeral, playful, lithe and changeable to match our mood and perhaps capture, ever so fleetingly, a hidden essence that we would bare only in the safety of the dark, and only for a fleeting moment. They are just the right duration.
But we want our lives, this physical world, to go on forever. The moon shadows may last a night; our lives ten thousand more. But still, when measured against their worth to us, they are fleeting.
We dare not waste time, then. We must strike our poses, make our mark, thrust ourselves out so we can be bigger than we are. We must bare in the fullness of light that hidden essence that can illumine the world, so that as the shadows fade, we can know that we have dared to live.
Such was my walk to take out the trash. And all the while, the peepers kept peeping.